Blades Fans Column: Flaws in voting for the greatest Sheffield United player but Phil Jagielka deserves to be among the best

Phil Jagielka
Phil Jagielka

At the recent 125th birthday dinner at Ponds Forge, Tony Currie was voted Sheffield United’s greatest-ever player.

Few would disagree (he’s the best Blades player I’ve ever seen), but the nature of such polls means that voters will opt for those they remember from their impressionable youth.

The demographic attending such a function is also significant - they were likely to be of an age for which Currie is a clear memory. Those who grew up watching in the late 1940s and 1950s are adamant that Jimmy Hagan was a class above Currie.

The criteria for choosing your greatest player are purely personal. Some would go for honours won, both personal (international caps) and team (championship and cup wins), whereas others might go for those who gave them the greatest enjoyment. More might choose players who are comparatively limited in ability but who showed unusual commitment.

The first scenario would give Billy Gillespie and Ernest Needham the edge, the second would sway you towards Currie, Brian Deane and Keith Edwards. Currie had caps to add to his enjoyment value, whilst Edwards, goalscorer supreme, never scored in the top flight, never mind playing for England. Deane, of course, did both.

The player in second place surprised me, but shouldnt have? Phil Jagielka has proved his class and has a score or more England caps. He is the first player produced by United’s youth system to play in a World Cup. He was also a key member of United’s so-near-yet-so far 2002/03 team (at right back), the 2005/06 promotion team (as a goalscoring midfielder) and the 2006/07 Premier League team (as a central defender). His second place is well deserved.